While some students lounged in the sand, the UCSB softball team played in the dirt over Spring Break. Since March 8, the Gauchos have lost five of their last nine games as they prepare for a talented Big West regular season schedule.

The Gauchos headed to the Stanford tournament on March 19-21 in need of capturing some wins. However, the weekend competition didn’t start out as planned, as Santa Barbara lost their first three games to Illinois-Chicago in a doubleheader and then fell to Stanford. The team then bounced back in their last game against the 10th-ranked Cardinal pulling off a 3-1 victory. Senior center fielder Davis Beck and senior right fielder Leslie Simien sparked a two-out rally in the third inning to drive Santa Barbara to the victory.

On March 23, the team then headed to Reno, Nev. to take on University of Nevada in a doubleheader. The Gauchos produced 15 runs in two games, only to lose 11-8 and 8-7 during a disappointing weekend. The lone bright spot of the weekend was freshman shortstop Kendra Singley who went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs in game one. Freshman left fielder Jessica Hejna also had a strong weekend, going 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs to lead the Gauchos.

The Gauchos entered this past weekend with revenge in their eyes as they closed out the nonconference schedule against Portland State University in a doubleheader. Portland dominated UCSB earlier in the season with an 8-1 victory on March 6 in Fullerton. Back at Campus Diamond, UCSB swept Portland 5-4 and 8-1 to end their non-conference action. Senior infielder Heather Noble finished the weekend going 4-for-5 with three RBIs to lead the Gauchos’ offensive attack. Junior third baseman Katie Oliver went 2-4 in game one and has been the motivation and inspiration in the infield.

With recent pitching problems for UCSB, the team looked to its lineup to see if they could produce another pitcher. Junior infielder Lindsey Herrin decided to turn from fielder to pitcher, debuting against Reno and starting again against Portland State. Herrin provides the Gauchos with depth and provides reassurance to UCSB knowing they have another force at the mound which they can look toward during long weekends.

After the team’s 38 nonconference games to begin the season, UCSB will now look toward the Big West regular season, as they face the hardest conference schedule in many years. Though extremely young, the team has as good of a chance to win the Big West Tournament as any other school in the conference.

The team will face Cal State Northridge (17-10) in a tripleheader this weekend to start the Big West season.